Although the ELCA and its predecessor bodies have always held racial justice as an important value and issue for members to be aware and committed to, events of the last few years have made us even more aware of the work we still have to do.
Finally, seeing white supremacists in Nazi uniforms marching down the streets of Charlottesville had to have convinced the most conflict avoidant among us of the necessity of taking a stand against Racism and clearly proclaiming the vision of Revelation 7:9
After this I looked, and there was a great crowd that no one could number. They were from every nation, tribe, people, and language. They were standing before the throne and before the Lamb.
Bishop Elizabeth Eaton has been urging us to begin these conversations if we haven’t yet and continue them if we have.
There are many resources for us to do that from the ELCA and they are listed below.
The Northeastern Iowa Synod has a new Anti-Racism Network that will be meeting at the Fall Leadership Event on September 16.
The purpose of this network is to support congregations and leaders as they work to continue these discussions and become the beloved community God is calling us to be.
We hope to be able to provide even more resources for this hard work. Until then, the resources below are a good start.
Freed in Christ: Race, Ethnicity and Culture
This statement was adopted at the 1993 Churchwide Assembly. A lot has changed since then and more discussion and reading and listening is needed. But this is a good place to begin. We should know what our church says about this. It reminds us that this is a theological issue.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) teaches that there is one God and one humanity created by God, as expressed in Scripture. Our oneness in Christ, the one who breaks down dividing walls, connects all people. The whole church looks forward to God’s future when people will come from everywhere to eat together in the reign of God (Luke 13:29). This church names racism as sin and affirms that the diversity of cultures throughout history is a God-given gift and a glimpse of the future. A plurality of culture (the attitudes and patterns of life) is a blessing to be appreciated, not absorbed by assimilation. The ELCA opposes discrimination, supports legislation that guarantees equal rights, and promotes international respect for human rights.
There is an accompanying Study Guide for this statement
A Guide for Leading Conversations on Race, Ethnicity, and Culture in Your Congregation
Social Policy Resolutions:
- RACISM Resolved: To express clearly the position of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America that racism is a sin, and to express the commitment of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to addressing in all aspects of its life and work the destructive results of racism. (Adopted by 1989 Churchwide Assembly)
- ANTI-RACISM (Adopted by 2002 Church Council)
- WORKING AGAINST RACISM (Adopted by 2003 Churchwide Assembly)
- RENEWED ACTION REGARDING RACISM TOWARD LUTHERANS OF AFRICAN DESCENT (Adopted by 2016 Churchwide Assembly)
One Body Many Members A journey for Christians across race, culture and class
“One Body, Many Members” is a faith-based journey of discovery to learn, share and proclaim God’s intention of oneness among people of every racial, ethnic and class background. How do we find that unity in a world as diverse as ours? How can we build up “one body” as strong as that?
These materials will lead you through the lands of race, culture, and class in the United States, to meet God every step of the way. You will practice skills you need to know to speak the language of welcome and show actions of caring. You will sense more clearly God’s purpose for you in today’s world.
Women of the ELCA
- Let’s Talk about Race: How to have helpful conversations about race in the church
- Bible Study: Listening to the Third Slave
- Bible Study: The Story of Peter and Cornelius
- Historical Timeline of race Relations
- Bishop Eaton addresses issues of racial justice, December 5, 2014
- Confronting Racism Webcast August 6, 2015
- Confronting Racism, a Holy Yearning, January 14, 2016
- Do Black Churches Matter in the ELCA Part I 2017
- Do Black Churches Matter in the ELCA, Part II
- ELCA Ethnic Specific and Multicultural Ministries
- African Descent Lutheran Association
- European Descent Lutheran Association for Racial Justice